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UN Rights Office Condemns Violent Taliban Crackdown on Peaceful Protesters

A member of the Taliban points his gun at protesters in Kabul, Afghanistan Sept. 7, 2021.
A member of the Taliban points his gun at protesters in Kabul, Afghanistan Sept. 7, 2021.

The U.N. human rights office has condemned the Taliban’s violent crackdown on peaceful protests in Afghanistan, where women in particular are trying to uphold their rights in the face of the Taliban’s restrictions on women’s place in society.

Despite the risks, Afghan women and men have taken to the streets in defense of their human rights. U.N. monitors say women have been pressing for their right to work, to freedom of movement, to education and to exercise their right to participate in public affairs.

U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says the protests which are protected under international human rights law, have been met with a severe response by the Taliban.

“We have seen the use of live ammunition, albeit there are reports that they are firing into the air in an apparent attempt to disperse the protesters. Protesters have still been killed. There have been reports of severe beatings as well, and we have also received reports of house-to-house search operations to try to identify those who attended certain protests,” Shamdasani said.

This week, the Taliban reportedly banned so-called unauthorized assemblies and ordered telecommunications companies to switch off internet service on mobile phones in specific areas of the capital, Kabul.

Shamdasani said her office has received credible reports of women’s rights activists and journalists covering protests in the country being arbitrarily arrested and savagely beaten. She said four deaths have been confirmed, although that number is likely to be higher.

“The Taliban are currently in control of Afghanistan, and we are calling on them to abide by the obligations under international human rights law that Afghanistan is bound by. It is very crucial that they do not resort to the use of force. It is in no one’s interest really to see this kind of bloodshed on the streets. It is not going to help to consolidate or stabilize society,” Shamdasani said.

What would help, she said, is an inclusive approach in which the Taliban rulers listen to the grievances of the people. She urged the Taliban to allow the Afghan people to exercise their right of freedom of assembly and to demonstrate peacefully out on the streets.